Monday, January 16, 2012

Loving the Present Moment

A few months ago, I was with my mom. She is 81 years old. In 2011, in April, she lost her mother who was 100 years old and two months later, in June, she lost her husband of 60 years, my father. It was a year of loss for her and for us. The most difficult thing about my father's death was knowing how much my mom would miss him. She does.

We were looking at old videos a few months ago (after his death) of Mom and Dad on their travels during their 50's and 60's. They had an RV and LOVED to "camp" with it. They tended to go either north or laterally across the country. This is, of course, a puzzle to me. Why you go north when you live in Minnesota, I do not understand. But they did and they cherished their time on the road. They went to Alaska, to New Bruswick, to DC, to Boston, to the North Shore and Ely. They went to nearby little parks and the Mississippi River to watch the eagles. They LOVED their RV camping.

Seeing Mom and Dad in Maine on the ocean, emotionally overcome by the strength of the waves, I was silent in the their experience. I have lived on the ocean. I love the ocean. I never, ever knew my parents to go to the edge of the earth and play in waves and welcome the tides. But I saw it on the DVD. They were in their mid-60's - just retired. It made me weep to see them so happy and carefree - like children, really.

Later, Mom and I were talking about our life (mine and Lee's) and, really, how good it is, how full of adventure. Yet, not without its own challenges.

Mom said, "Yes, you are so lucky - in the prime of life."

I have not forgotten it. We tend, as we age, to long for the past. To wish for the body and face we had when we were 25, the mental agility we had at 30, the confidence at 40. Later, we wish we had the body and face we had at 40.

I once heard Oprah say something like this, "When you look in the mirror, love yourself. In 20 years, you will wish you looked just like this again!"

How true!

Lee and I are in the prime of life. And, when I am 80, I will remember what 58 felt and looked like and wish I felt and looked like that. So, why not now? Why not just WISH, EMBRACE, LOVE that I am 58 and love how I feel and look? And for all my dear friends who are hovering at 40, considering botox, wishing for the body they had at 25, trust me! You can't imagine how great you look, how smart you are at this age. Love yourself.

Sometimes, I can do this. But, not always. I'm workin' on it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Music (Magic) on Four

The setting - you can't beat it.

Abbie Gardner of Red Molly plays her steel guitar with bassist Craig Akin at Music on Four,
a house concert on the Upper West Side. Lucky us.

It was one of those evenings - touching.  Made so by a talent that is exclusively human - the ability to make music with an instrument. Then, add the human voice - pliant and lilting, blusey and melancholy.

We went to one of our favorite little (emphasis there) venues - Music on Four. Friends Ihor and Marisha sponsor these knock your socks off house concerts - ALL ACOUSTIC - with up and coming (usually) younger musicians. Ihor is like evangelical about supporting these artists - and it is quite wonderful to be there with 40 other aging hippies and assorted 30-somethings in an apartment on the Upper West Side that is a flashback from 1972: the Peace light, the macrame plant hangers, posters, art - I think there are beads going to the bedroom.

But it couldn't be more fabulous. Food, drink and live music for ..... DRUM ROLL .....$20! And all of it goes to the musicians. Then he gets you to buy the latest CD, which of course you want to do; I'm playing mine now. You can't get a glass of wine at Bemelmen's for $20, let alone music and food. You can't even get a conversation there because you can't hear.

Tonight we heard a "trio" that Ihor advertised as the the Super Session - songwriter / singer Abbie Gardner of Red Molly, Pete Kennedy on guitar (ok, wow) of The Kennedys and bassist Craig Akin (wow, again) They all seemed to have the night off so got together to play here. Lucky us.

For Red Molly, think Dixie Chicks if they lived in New York in the Village. Her music has that lovely American roots sound - folk / country / blues mix that makes you either tap your foot and hoot or cry. Check out the song "Hope" on her new solo album, "HOPE."

I don't know much about the Kennedys or Craig Akin, but I'm off to learn.  Sweet dreams.

Pete Kennedy

Red Molly - Abbie Gardner on right

360 Gallery - This Saturday

Over the past two weeks I've been working with Lee and his / our web designer to launch his website and  happily spreading the word about his first workshop / retreat at the end of January. So many people / friends / clients have responded and will be there. I am going to feel like it is MY party - not his.

He just keeps saying, "Jeez, Alecia, you have cool friends."

He's right.

That is the prelude to this post. I've been honking his program, and as a nice German-Norwegian-English girl, it isn't nice to toot your own horn, so I have shirked my responsibility to spread the word about an opening at Gallery 360 this Saturday 7 - 10. (If you have Tevo and can tape the Tebow-Brady matchup at the same time on Saturday night or if you can even stand to WAIT to see it!)

Merry, the owner of the inspirational 360 Gallery at 3011 West 50th (50th just east of Xerxes) is having a reception to open a new show of artists. Well, I am one of them. MOI! There are 5 artists in all, I think.

I can't quite believe it, but she really liked my photos from Italy and wanted to show them, so who is to refuse that? She helped me select two especially for the show - and this woman has a really amazing eye. She saw things I never saw in my own photos. And she passed on photos I thought were good. I LOVE what I learned from her.

So, just tell me what to do, what to print, what to frame and hand me a stack of postcards to mail out (which I haven't done), write up an artist's statement (which I haven't done) and show up on Saturday night looking artsy. I can do it.

SO - I guess this is another be there or be square. Show up for some wine, food, art and some really good jewelry if you are in a buying mood! I SWEAR by her jewelry. Then go home and watch the taped version of the Tebow magic.

Hope to see you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chillin - but I'm not very good at it.

Photo I took in Venice Beach, CA, Sept 2011

I've been talking about this for a month. Chillin'out. It was the subject of my holiday card. But, I wasn't feelin it. I was the opposite of chill. I was anxious, annoying, high maintenance, stressed. I pretended to be chill over Christmas, but I see photos of myself and feel like I look like I just got out of plastic surgery, my face is so distorted and tight. Lee was ready to put me in a straightjacket on Friday because I'd had a week of technological meltdowns (dead computer, new computer, dead printer, new printer, new printer that didn't work, another new printer, newer printer that still doesn't work) and I was ready for a drink at 1:00 p.m. on Friday. I had a meeting at 1:30.

Yesterday, we came to NY. I had to miss last month's trip because I was too busy. Too stressed out! I seem to LOVE identifying with being stressed. Like, being uber busy is a measure of my value. I have to admit, when Dad said, "You are such a hard worker," that is the HIGHEST compliment we could get from him. So, I / my sibs have this thing: you just can't work hard enough.

But, what we didn't learn in my family is how to re-fuel. If there was work to be done, it always came first. What I've learned when you run your own business is that there is ALWAYS work to be done. hear this: I LOVE my work. But, I've also learned that can make it harder to stop for the re-fueling! Oh, I just love creating those quotes. Oh, I just love pulling fabrics for a new project. Oh, I just LOVE looking at my books for ideas for that kitchen project! At 2 in the morning, I sometimes wake up and look at my books.

Here's the point: It may be that loving your work makes it even harder to take time to re-charge. It may be that having the father I had makes it harder too. I only remember two (2) vacations in my entire childhood! (And one of them was related to my dad's work.)

So...we get to the airport and Lee and I start to make jokes and laugh. I am laughing so hard I am crying kind of laughing. I began to let go.

Then we get to our apartment in NYC and it is 60 degrees so after the schlep to the 4th floor, we dump the bags and get out to walk Central Park without so much as a sweater! I am in awe of the beauty of the city in mid-winter in this "heat-wave" - people everywhere, running in tank tops and shorts, bikers, baby strollers, walkers. I let go of even more.

Today, we had Alexander and Jessie (my son and his girlfriend) over for football and food. I love this apartment so much because it is so concise. I have what I need and nothing more. It is 450 square feet with 11 foot ceilings and beautiful light.

We went to the market for the perfect vegetables for lunch, came home, and I got to work as Lee settled in for Wild Card Sunday. Zan and Jessie showed up, planted themselves on the sofa and in the leather chair and we spent the next 6 hours talking, grazing on appetizers, drinking cappuccini, eating lunch of spinach, leek and feta quiche, then popping the wine at 5:00. It was like the perfect salve for my wounds - to spend the day with my family in a place where I couldn't go tuck off into the corner of my office, a web that both entices and ensnares.

We laughed.

When they left at 6:30, I passed them a $20 to help cover the cost of a cab. "No, you don't need to do that, Mom," Zan said.

"Let me put it this way. Here's $20 to get the snowboard that has been under our bed for 3 1/2 years back to Brooklyn. Take it in a cab." They took the $20 and the snowboard with hugs, more laughing, and good wishes.

Now, Lee and I are settled in to watch Denver play the Steelers. That Tebow magic! Wowser. Well, for now, I am finally chillin' like I was preachin' in my Christmas card. Finally. Hallelujah, Tim (Tebow.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lee's New Deal: A Call to Inner Fitness

Dear Friends, 

This first week of January 2012, my husband, Lee, launched his new consulting practice, The Center for Imaginative Action.

This idea has been gestating for years in him, eight of them actively, while he was in graduate school at Pacifica Graduate Institute, one of only 2-3 schools in the country that acknowledges the role of the unconscious in the academic study of psychology. Isn't that nuts!!!!! Most psychology programs have become scientistic. We are no more than random atoms and biology. Ugh!

As a man who, in his 20s, worked with a celebrated Jungian analyst, Helen Luke, a psychology with "depth" is the one that captured Lee's imagination years ago. In September, many of you know he received his Ph.D. in Depth Psychology. His Center for Imaginative Action will be a place of retreat for those who find themselves on the cusp of change, for those who know it is time for re-invention, for those who seek meaning, for those looking for what Lee calls "inner fitness."

He will work with groups, business, couples, and individuals. He is especially capable of working with those facing unwelcome change and suffering. He is also an amazing friend to parents (with his many years as a Waldorf teacher , grades 1-6) who may need support in a world that often seems too grown up for the magic of childhood. 

Long story 60, he's jumping off the cliff (again) without a net.

This leaping skill is one we've honed together, by hook or by crook, over almost 19 years and, although, not without risk, we've learned to trust the invisible world that carries us along these winds of change ( most of them welcome, some of them more challenging.) At least monthly we hear, "We want your life." Or, "We want to be like you two when we grow up."  We work for ourselves, love our work, live in both Minneapolis and New York and spend one month a year in Italy. It is a good life. We are so happy to be role models, but we never forget that "this charmed life" required choices, a certain attitude about life-long learning (including time living apart) a belief in the magic of the human spirit and one's calling, vision, and hard work. It is not the safe approach to life. But it is incredibly satisfying. This is what Lee will teach people how to do.

To start, he is presenting his unique approach to creating the life that you want in the Introductory Retreat on 1/28/12  in South Minneapolis. It is called (Re)Imagine Your Life.

Of course, I adore him and think his work is worthwhile. But, I include this on my blog because many of you  have given me the privilege of getting to know you in a personal way and think you might appreciate and benefit from his work, or know someone close to you that would. Couples are especially welcome as lifelong learning (especially together) is one of our highest values.

If, in this New Year, you feel the winds (or hurricanes) of change rustling about, Lee may be a guide for you or for someone you love. It will be a fun day with cool people! I'm not missin' it.

Here is a flyer for his first event. His website is

Cheers - to a bright, courageous new year for all of you! 


Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Purging

We are in that annual purging mood. It is painfully annoying to those who prefer to spend the holiday chillin’ and drinking vino and watchin’ old Seinfeld episodes or even worse, old Star Trek! (You know who you are!) But, US, we are all about purging and getting it together. So we tore apart every drawer and shelf and nook and cranny in our main living area. Lee even went to the storage in the basement and dug around for artifacts from the past. Then, we had a RITUAL BURNING.

We were just going to throw out the 12 bags of garbage we created, but realized that it would be pretty easy to steal our identities (which could be either not that interesting or rather profitable, depending on how you ran with it.)  We don’t have a shredder, which we suddenly realized might be a good idea. I said, “I wish we could just burn it.”

Then, we realized that we could! We have a fireplace. So we spent an evening doing a ritual purging. We tossed lots of old, unwanted, unwelcome paper into the raging fire and toasted more than once to the future - and a big fat good-bye to the stupid past.

Whew. It felt so great.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

510 Groveland Bar: Asleep.

La Belle Vie Lounge at 510 Groveland. Asleep. 10:00 a.m.

I was at 510 Groveland the other morning and tucked into the empty bar. I love it at night - seems Lauren Bacall might just show up in flowing palazzo pants. Now, I see it is quite magical in the morning light, too. Couldn't resist this  - the paper cones over the bottles amid the classical mouldings.